02/05/2024 Nicaragua (International Christian Concern) – Three American missionaries serving with a U.S.-based nonprofit are facing criminal charges in Nicaragua. The missionaries, identified as Jon Hancock, Jacob Hancock, and Cassandra Hancock, have been accused of money laundering and organized crime in connection to eight mass evangelistic gospel campaigns hosted in the country last year, reaching nearly one million people. Eleven local pastors also face charges for their participation in the events.
The Christian ministry known as Mountain Gateway, which operates as Puerta de la Montaña in Nicaragua, is focused on discipleship, church planting, humanitarian outreach, and sharing the gospel globally. For ten years, Mountain Gateway has served the people of Nicaragua, maintaining a close relationship with local officials and operating under the government’s oversight.
Their process for planning the events in 2023 was no different.
According to the organization, the events were held “with the support and assistance of the Nicaraguan government,” and “Mountain Gateway has documentation demonstrating that the Nicaraguan government viewed and approved all funds that entered the country.” Yet despite the full cooperation and transparency of ministry officials, Nicaragua’s Attorney General has made clear his intention to move forward with charges against the missionaries and local pastors.
Unfortunately, this case is just an example of the many ways Christians face discriminatory treatment under the repressive regime of President Daniel Ortega. Since 2018, dozens of Catholic Bishops have been arrested, churches vandalized, and religious clergy have faced erroneous charges for criticizing the government’s poor religious freedom conditions.
Mountain Gateway shared that it “does not understand the complexity of what is happening with the allegations made by the Nicaraguan government [and that it] has always strived to be respectful to the Nicaraguan government and has operated under its legal policies. These charges are based on erroneous information, and Mountain Gateway will do everything in its power to resolve this through diplomatic channels.”
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